During the Holiday Season it’s so hard to keep from tripping over ads and articles on “Great Gift Ideas!” I figured I might as well get in on it too, with my own guide to finding the perfect cigar gift. So, I’ve kept it simple. Here are five great gift ideas in five respective categories and various price points, that you can hint at to your wife, girlfriend, best friend, business colleagues or, you can tie a string around your finger like Uncle Billy in It’s a Wonderful Life, so you can remember to buy them for yourself. These are just suggestions, there are plenty more great gift ideas and deals to be found as well. I left the prices out, because they are subject to change and may even be on sale or include offers.
A sampler always makes a great gift. Here’s a dynamite collection for the cigar smoker who’s just starting out or has been smoking cigars for decades. I like this sampler because it’s got lots of cigars (16 in all!), big brand variety, and the price is extremely reasonable. Plus, they’re all made by the best in the business like The Fuentes, Eiroas, Garcias, Ozgeners, Toraños, Padróns, Perdomos, and Plasencias. Ranging from mild to muscular, these are “must-smokes” no cigar smoker should be without.
Cutters: Xikar Xi2 Fiberglass Cigar Cutters
CLACK! That’s the sound of a Xikar Xi cutter opening. When it comes to cutters, I’ve seen more Xikars in the hands of cigar smokers than any other make. That’s because they’re cool-looking, ultra sharp, guaranteed for the life of the cutter, and most importantly, they work! The Xi2 fiberglass series is very affordable, and the tear-drop shape provides maximum grip strength for the cleanest cuts ever – even up to a 56 ring. Don’t fiddle with the cheapo cutters. Get yourself or your giftee something they’ll appreciate for years to come.
I recently purchased this Vector Heatran lighter for myself and I love it. IMO, Vector has proven to be one of the more reliable makers of cigar lighters, and this triple flame is especially good for toasting and lighting cigars from a 50 to 60 ring gauge. It comes in several colors, is very affordable, and it has a fuel viewing window, which I would suggest you look for in any cigar lighter you buy. It really comes in handy. This lighter also has a handy cigar punch on the bottom, in case you forget your regular cutter.
Here’s a humidor that says, “I love the leaf.” The tobacco leaf on this well-made, dark maple humidor is bordered by hand inlays, that add an attractive touch of class to this case. Features include Spanish cedar lining, brass hardware, quadrant hinges, a large rectangular oasis foam humidifier, brass/glass analog hygrometer, top tray, plus a lock & key with a yellow tassel. Its affordable price and 125 cigar capacity also make it a great value. Cigar smokers always need more room eventually, and this humidor will allow you or your giftee’s collection to grow without having to buy another humidor sooner than you wanted.
Cigar & Accessory Kits: Horn of Plenty Super Sampler
For the cigar smoker who wants it all, THIS is a very cool gift at a ridiculously low price. Perfect for the new cigar smoker, this item comes with just about everything but the kitchen sink. You get our bestselling Capri humidor plus 20 cigars chosen from among the world’s best-known brands such as Alec Bradley, CAO, E.P. Carrillo, Oliva, Macanudo, Romeo y Julieta, Tatuaje, Cohiba, and too many more to mention. But that’s not all! You also get a guillotine cutter, torch lighter, seasoning kit, humidifier, humidifying solution, and much more. This is a fantastic gift idea valued at over $296, for way less than you’d expect to pay.
So, check your list twice, take a look at these items, and browse around. There’s something for every cigar smoker at affordable prices, and you can do all your cigar gift shopping without having to deal with mall mania.
Note: Thanks for visiting our 2011 holiday gift guide – but you need to get with the times! Check out our cigar gifts guide for over 15 ideas perfect for any cigar smoker on your list!
I recently ran a survey question on Cigar Advisor asking if smokers rotated their cigar accessories. After all, you rotate your cigars, so why not your accessories? As of this writing, 37% did not rotate their cigar accessories, per se, they just wait until one or the other breaks and buy a new one. But running second at 31% was “It depends on the cigar.”
This may sound like an off-beat topic, but as I get a lot of my subject matter, it came from my own personal experience. One night, I was about to light-up a cigar in my “man cave” (a/k/a the basement), and instead of using my usual “everyday” lighter, I took out my dual torch lighter. As I was doing this I wondered, Do other cigar smokers rotate their cigar accessories?” And so, there it is.
I’ve got a decent amount of cigar cutters and lighters I’ve collected over the years. They include a few Xikar cigar cutters, several other double-blade guillotine cutters, a couple of V-cutters, and a pair of small folding cigar scissors. I suppose I should also include the punch cutters built-in to two of my lighters, but they’re not that sharp. Speaking of lighters, I have several single jet torch lighters (one of which I keep in my car for emergencies), a double and a triple jet model, plus a Zippo.
What’s interesting is that each of these tools can serve a specific purpose. For example, one of the reasons I switched to my twin torch was because the cigar I chose that night had a 50 ring, and the two flames seem to work better, especially during toasting. For even wider cigars, I might even pull out the triple flame. Sometimes I’ll opt for a V-cutter to clip a Torpedo, rather than a double blade. Or, I’ll use a punch cutter to make a “figure 8″ or “cloverleaf” cut in the head of a 50+ ringer.
That said, one might be inclined to presume that a good number of cigar smokers also rotate their lighters and cutters. According to the survey, only 18%. rotate their cigar accessories for the sheer purpose of giving them “equal usage.” However, if 31% of smokers are using different cigar accessories depending on the type of cigar they plan to smoke, then they really are rotating their cutters and lighters. I suppose I would be a member of this group.
What I find even more surprising is that 14% of the cigar smokers polled so far had only one cutter and lighter. Huh! I figured that even the one to three cigars-per-week smoker would have at least a couple of cutters and lighters. In my opinion, it is to every cigar smoker’s advantage to have a few couple or even a few of each. You never know when your lighter is going to fire-off its last round ever, or when your cutter has become so dull, you might as well use a butter knife to clip it (though the latter is easier to gauge.)
As I write this, Thanksgiving is behind us and we’re officially into the Holiday season. If you’re among those who only have one cutter and lighter, with all the sales happening, now’s a great time to add at least another of each to your collection of cigar accessories. If you have a single flame lighter, pick up a dual or triple flame. If you prefer buying cheap cutters, be adventurous and pick up a high quality blade that will last more like two years rather than two months.
Finally, if you’re in the camp that has a good variety of cigar accessories, more power to you. Whether you intentionally rotate them is not all that important. It’s more like, if you got ‘em, you might as well use ‘em.
OPERATOR: Hello, Cigar Hotline. How may I help you?
CALLER: I recently bought some cigars and put them in a container while I seasoned my new humidor. When they were in the container maybe I had too big a humidifier in the there or something, because they are really squishy. When you have over humidified cigars they get soft, right? If so, is there a way to get the extra moisture out and save them?
OPERATOR: Yes, you have over humidified cigars, but there is a way to get them back to normal. Was the container a plastic one, like you would put leftovers in?
OPERATOR: The problem with that kind of container is, they’re so airtight that the humidity builds up much faster. This will also happen if you use a mason jar type humidor for your cigars. Whether you keep your cigars in a humidor or a sealed container you have to allow for some air flow. With sealed containers, if you find the cigars are getting too soft, pop one of the corners. If it’s a mason jar, keep the hook unlocked. If the cigars were fresh when you put them in the container, you probably didn’t need a humidifier at all. The moisture already in the cigars would have kept them fresh long enough to season your humidor. Are they in the humidor now?
OPERATOR: The first thing you should do is sniff them and see if they’re getting moldy. If they’re not, you’re halfway there. Leave the humidor open, too.
CALLER: And if they are moldy?
OPERATOR: Then you may have to use them for mulch. But let’s assume you caught them in time and they’re not moldy. The next thing you want to do is remove the humidifier. Let the RH settle down to at least 65% and try to keep it there. If you smoke the cigars in the condition they’re in now, the wrappers will crack open on you and they may not even stay lit. For now, keep the lid open and let them get some fresh air for a couple of days, then close it again. Check on them every two days by taking a reading from your hygrometer until it reads 65%. Don’t smoke them until they’ve become a bit harder; not too soft, just supple enough to move a little when you gently pinch them.
CALLER: When can I put the humidifier back in?
OPERATOR: When the hygrometer dips down to about 63%. By then your humidifier may have dried out a little, too. It’s much easier to bring cigars back from being too moist than if they’re too dry. When they get too dry, once they’ve been re-humidified, they may have lost some of their flavor and bouquet.
CALLER: Thanks. I’ll give it a try.
OPERATOR: There is another thing you can do, which is similar to what I described. You can dry box them. Take a factory cigar box, preferably made of Spanish cedar, and put all the moist cigars in there for a few days. Put a hygrometer in there, too. The cedar will absorb the moisture from the cigars, and they should be fine. Just keep an eye on them until they feel right. Then you can move them into your humidor.
It all started on October 20, 2011, with a simple request from LTC Larry Dugan to Robert DeSousa, who is a LTC in the PA Army National Guard and also serves as state director for U.S. Senator Pat Toomey. The Battalion Commander’s Nittany-6 (from Pennsylvania) had just in arrived in Iraq for their tour of duty.
“Any chance of hooking us up w/ some cigars and a humidor? The unit we’re replacing isn’t really into the social cigar smoking thing, but our HHQ (SB) is–it’d help the Command relationship and overall mission I’m sure…”
LTC Lawrence Larry Dugan
Subject: Cigars for Soldiers.
Hate to bother you. This is a PA unit. 135 guys. They just arrived in Iraq. They will be the last unit there. Do you send cigars to troops?
Arthur replied, saying he’d be happy to oblige and forwarded the message on to the Customer Service Manager, Cory Reinhard. Mr. Reinhard, who has done this on many occasions for U.S. troops, set the wheels in motion. Once everyone was in the loop, the following package was prepared and shipped out within 24 hours:
50 CAO OSA Sol cigars, 50 La Gloria Artesanos Retro cigars, 35 Vegas Cubanas cigars by Don Pepin, all neatly packed in a Perdomo 80 cigar travel case. That’s quite an impressive stash. At least one topflight cigar for every soldier in the unit, plus a humidor that can take plenty of punishment and keep all those cigars fresh under the harsh conditions of Iraq’s climate and desert (see photo).
As noted above, sending cigars to the troops is nothing new to Famous Smoke Shop. We’ve been doing it since the war in Iraq started, and have also sent cigars to U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan. The call center has even had phone-in orders where customers ordered extra cigars to be sent to the troops. Additionally, there is a group of local retail store customers who annually collect cigars for the troops and ship them out during the Christmas holidays.
“I’m proud to be able to support our troops by providing them with our products and giving them a little piece of home,” said Mr. Reinhard. “They are serving and protecting us and our country. Being able to assist them is the least we can do.”
Famous Smoke Shop, the nation’s leading discounter of premium cigars has officially opened the doors to its new state-of-the-art cigar “superstore.” The new cigar store is located at 90 Mort Drive in the Forks Twp. section of Easton, PA. Their new cigar store is so big that the entire former cigar store would fit inside the new store’s humidor alone! The new cigar store features a comfortable new lounge. It also features the adjoining Leaf cigar bar and restaurant which are scheduled to open in time for Famous’s annual Cigar Expo on August 26th.
The solid wood doors are almost intimidatingly tall, and the first thing you notice is the beautiful polished wood and glass décor with large windows so you can see practically all of the cigars on display. Most of the cigars in the humidor are displayed in luxurious glass cases. Cigar accessories and humidors are on display in the main entrance area outside the humidor. Cash registers are also located in both the humidor and the main entrance.
One of the best features of the new cigar store is the increased size. This permits customers to move about more freely. The store was also designed to accommodate in-store events so manufacturers can display their cigars, swag, etc. in a more comfortable and professional setting.
To enter the store, customers pass an outdoor seating area where, weather permitting, cigar smokers can sit and enjoy their cigars al fresco, while enjoying a cool relaxing drink from the Leaf bar. An additional patio is set adjacent to the Leaf restaurant where food from the eatery’s wide-ranging menu will be served. Moreover, smoking is permitted throughout the entire facility.
Hours of Operation
- Monday ,Tuesday, Wednesday 9-6
- Thursday, Friday, Saturday 9-9
- Sunday 10-7
Click here for directions.
For more information, please call 610-559-8800. Additional photos of the new store can be found on the Leaf Facebook page. Don’t forget to “Like” Leaf on Facebook!
Why is it when we have a problem with our cigars the first thing we want to do is blame the manufacturer? Bad cigar or not, It’s unbelievable, the number of Customer Service emails I’ve seen, which include claims against a factory, based on a customer’s belief that the cigars didn’t taste as good as the box before, or they were too dry, or too moist, or the factory must have changed the blend; and so it must be the factory’s fault.
Sure, factories make mistakes – even the best of them. They mislabel Natural boxes as Maduro, or Coronas as Robusto; they ship cigars that are under-fermented, or the “odd bad box” (as I refer to them), with cigars that were rolled too tightly, too loosely, or just improperly. After all, they make a LOT of cigars, and the factories are supervised, and cigars are rolled by human beings (I’m talking premium handmades, not machine-mades) so it’s not too surprising that things go wrong every so often. However, this is the exception and not the rule. If you’re an experienced cigar smoker, you know this by now.
Perhaps some of the psychology behind this blame game stems from the fact that most better cigars average close to $100 a box and a lot of customers just expect every stick to be perfect. I can’t speak for cases in which the cigars were rolled poorly, mislabeled, or under-fermented, but there are cases in which the fault for the bad cigar actually lies with the consumer.
Many of the questions I’m asked have to do with proper humidification. This tells me that even though a lot of cigar smokers tend to follow the rules with regard to keeping their temperature and humidity at the proper levels, many are still not sure, or are unable to control their conditions consistently. To be fair, any number of factors having nothing to do with the smoker could contribute to storage problems.
Even I’ve been tripped-up by this. I had a box of cigars I bought from a very well-respected manufacturer. No matter how many I smoked, they kept “exploding” on me. Once I got through the first inch, they would crack open. I have patience for one or two, but by the time you get through half the box you begin to wonder, “Who the hell made these?” As it turns out, my hygrometer was off, and even though the cigars felt OK before lighting, they just had too much moisture in them. There are other factors like extra-juicy ligero that can cause this, so I wrote to the factory.
At this point, let me interject that when you complain to the factory, I’ve rarely found a manufacturer that didn’t do everything possible to find the source of the problem. Moreover, in some cases they’ll go around the retailer and just send you a complimentary box. After all, they really do want you to be satisfied, lest we not forget that a lot of pride goes into the making of premium cigars. I’ve even seen some factories bend over backwards to help out a customer, and even then, the customer wasn’t satisfied. Well, when it comes to some people, all you can say is “go figure.”
There are also some retailers who don’t properly store the cigars they keep in stock. You certainly can’t blame the factory for that. But not unlike the manufacturers, most retailers will do everything in their power to make good on a “bad” sale.
The point is, before you jump to conclusions about who’s at fault when you get that odd bad box, cigar sampler, or even a single bad cigar, consider the possibility that the fault is yours. Here are a few pointers that may help before you find yourself smoking through your ears rather than your mouth:
- If you order from an online cigar store, give the cigars a few days or even a week to settle in your humidor. You’d be surprised what a difference this makes in a lot of cases.
- If you buy from a brick & mortar store, try to check out the conditions in which they keep their cigars. Maybe they’re not doing their job.
- Make sure your humidor is consistent in terms of it’s temperature and humidity. (Remember to rotate your cigars every couple of months, too.)
- If you tend to smoke a lot of the same blend, don’t be surprised if they taste a little different every so often. Unless the factory announces a specific blend change, the blend never varies in terms of its leaf type content, and that includes the pre-bunching weight of the tobaccos. Just realize that tobaccos will vary from harvest to harvest, and if the factory is doing its job, the smoke, if not entirely consistent, should be in the ballpark 99% of the time.
If you’re a cigar-smoking Mom or Dad, I want to hear from you.
Like any good father, I want what’s best for my kids. With my oldest still under 4, they’re still pretty far removed from chats about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. But sooner or later, they’re going to start asking material questions about cigars and why I smoke them. The issues surrounding cigars and fatherhood are complex, and they’re going to receive a lot of information from a lot of different sources about cigars and tobacco products in general.
My oldest already knows what cigars are. He saw a cigar in the ashtray and asked me what it was, and I answered him frankly. I’m not about to insult his intelligence by pretending not to hear his question, or by spouting off some falsehood.
I guess the bottom line is this: I’m not interested in indoctrinating him in any way, but neither am I about to hide my cabinet humidor.
I DO consciously abstain from smoking in their presence. While I’m not ashamed of cigars, smoking is not a behavior I wish to normalize in their worldview. Besides, with few exceptions, actually enjoying one when they’re about is near-impossible.
Do I look forward to sharing a cigar with my kids someday? Sure, when they’re 18 and old enough to know the difference between occasionally enjoying a fine cigar and chain-smoking cigarettes. I plan to teach them about enjoying cigars responsibly, and make sure they’re aware of the health risks associated with tobacco. I believe that adults have the right to make an informed decision about tobacco use, and when it comes to cigars and fatherhood, I plan to help inform my children so they can make their own choice when the time comes.
How do/did you handle the smoking question vis-à-vis cigars? Are there any tips on cigars and fatherhood that you can give to a relative rookie Dad? Thanks in advance.
Between the economy and my third kid on the way, it’s getting harder and harder to justify a night out at the bar. But when an old friend calls you up out of the blue and wants to get together for drinks on a weeknight, what else is there to do?
My buddy is in a similar position as I am: Married working man with a couple kids and a mortgage. Neither of us is in a position to be throwing money around on drinks. Moreover, it’s been tough to get together, given our schedules and the hours that separate us.
First of all, the economics are staggering. For the tap price of a domestic pint, I can enjoy a couple microbrews. Instead of an average craft beer, I can dip into some esoteric Belgian beers, or a few fingers of single malt scotch or barrel-aged rum.
Add to that my man cave’s utter lack of macho assholes and drink-grubbing girls bedecked in hot pants and tube tops, and you’ve got a rough idea of why I mostly pass on the bar these days. What’s more, cigars are encouraged, not banned, in my man cave.
But the real kicker is the atmosphere. I don’t know about you, but whether I’m catching up with old friends or goofing off with new ones, I enjoy not having to ask them to repeat themselves ad nauseum. My man cave not only features great music that I enjoy, but played at an enjoyable volume.
So you can keep your aggro patronage, your overpriced drinks, and your cigarette deck. I think I’ll stick with hanging out in my man cave with great company, music I enjoy, a selection of beers and liquors tailored to my liking, and all the cigars I feel like smoking.
Here’s a nifty topic that crosses my path every now and then – rotating cigars in your humidor. According to a poll administered by Cigar Advisor Magazine, 54% of cigar smokers surveyed said they rotate their cigars on a regular basis. So what is “rotating cigars,” and what are its benefits?
Not unlike the way tobacco leaves are rotated on pilons in the cigar factory during fermentation, rotating cigars is simply moving the cigars in the lower rows of your humidor to the upper rows. There are areas in your humidor that can restrict moisture from getting to your primos. And because air circulation is important during the aging process, rotating cigars allows them to get a more equal distribution of moist air. This is also why it helps to leave some space between your cigars. Trying to pack them in tightly like they are in their factory cigar boxes can be detrimental to their survival. There’s no specific method to rotating cigars, as long as you’re able to shift the majority of the sticks from point A to point B.
Here’s how I do it: About every 6-8 weeks, I bring the humidor out to a table where I have plenty of room to spread out. Because I’m kind of a neatnik, I lay the cigars out by row on either paper towels or wax paper. The latter is better because wax paper won’t leave any lint on the cigars. Noting which cigars were taken from the top row, I begin placing them back in the humidor. Sometimes I replace them by size, but mixing them up can also help create more air flow around the cigars.
One hitch is, if you happen to have a high-capacity humidor that’s well-stocked, it can take a while before you get through all of them. So, sometimes I enlist the help of my younger son, and he actually enjoys it because he
says they remind him of Lincoln Logs. The other hitch is, if you remove the cellos from your cigars, you have to be careful. I’ve damaged several good sticks during the process over the years, so now I keep the cellos on my most expensive cigars.
Although it’s still a good idea to rotate your cigars on a regular basis, if you can get the air circulating in your humidor 24/7 you may not have to rotate them as often. Some cigar smokers actually add small computer fans to their humidors to help circulate the air. However, Cigar Oasis, a company that makes electronic humidifiers, includes fans in all of their models.
Many aspects of enjoying premium cigars have to do with patience, and though rotating your cigars may be a bit time-consuming, as the saying goes, “The end justifies the means.”
As we already know, the best place to store your cigars is in a properly maintained humidor. However, there are some cigar humidors, like cabinet style humidors, et. al. that are big enough to accommodate entire boxes of cigars. One of the most often asked questions about this type of storage is whether the humidity from the humidor will reach the cigars in their factory boxes.
If the conditions are right, cigar box storage is easy. Cigars that are kept in their factory boxes will stay fresh up to a month on average, even after opening. By placing the entire box in your humidor the cigars will remain fresh indefinitely, just as they would if you removed the cigars, but it depends on how you plan to store the boxes, too. For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume you are storing your cigars for the long haul and that your humidor keeps pretty stable “ideal” conditions.
By keeping the cigar boxes sealed with their outer cello on them, this is not much different from cigar box storage in a humidified warehouse or a cigar store humidor; the cigars should be fine. However, it’s better to remove the outer cello from the box, which will allow more humidified air to seep into the box. Moreover, cracking the lid – in other words, lifting it an inch or so – will allow even more humidified air in, and it is recommended that you do this every so often. You can use any number of small objects to prop the lid open. Anything from an extra cigar cutter to a cedar spacer block, even a rolled up business card will do. You can keep the lid propped up for as long as you deem necessary. 24 hours is usually plenty of time.
Of course, removing the lid entirely permits the most air flow, and this practice is also quite popular with many cigar smokers who have cabinet type humidors.
Finally, cardboard boxes are packed tighter than wooden “cabinet” style boxes in which the cigars themselves are also not protected by cello. Wooden boxes are also preferred because they’re made from Spanish cedar, thereby augmenting the positive effect Spanish cedar has on aging cigars.